Your Most Pressing Liebster Questions, Answered!

Question Mark Graffiti by Bilal KamoonWell, Meredith from Looking Up With Down Syndrome nominated me for the Liebster Award, and I’m going to attempt to answer a few of her questions today.

1.  Why do you blog?

I have always loved to write.  If I hadn’t taught music, I would have taught Language Arts, because words are my thing.  I get that from my mom.  I also blog because I’m not too far from the bewilderment of getting a diagnosis of autism for my son, and also the crazy, life-altering process that is divorce.  Neither experience was fun, and it was difficult to find resources at first.  It still can be, even in this day and age.  Writing this blog helps me to help others, all the while processing my own learning curve with autism, with parenting solo, with blending a family — all of it!  In my book, it’s a win-win-win!

2.  What are you passionate about?

There are so many people on this planet who have less than I do, whether it’s food, money, resources, opportunities…  I know in my heart of hearts that I was put on this planet to help people, and that’s what I get passionate about.  Over the past several years, I’ve come to believe that while government programs are definitely needed and have their place, nonprofits are going to have to be a part of the solution to the world’s most dire problems, because governments are fickle and changing (and usually broke).  It’s going to all come down to each one of us, helping our neighbors, friends, and fellow humans.

3.  Who do you admire?

I admire everyday people who stand up for others.  I admire the strength of regular people who have so much to deal with on a daily basis.  I admire people who think before speaking, and people who always strive to do their best.  I admire people who keep their word, and people who are compassionate.  I admire people who are non-judgmental, and people who are not too proud.

How about you, dear readers?  How would you answer these questions?


Money and Change

Hands down, the biggest change that The Boy and I will be experiencing centers around money.  I have been so lucky to live and work where I do, because teachers here make a decent wage.  Without the third person in the house, and with an increasing salary, I was able to crawl out of the debt that was largely due to the ex’s money mismanagement, and then provide a life for my son, virtually free from want.

In about a month, I will be unemployed.  I will get paid through the summer, and God willing, I will be employed again by the time those paychecks stop coming.  But I know I will not be making anywhere near what I have been making.

1874 USA 3 dollars coin.

Now, before you start freaking out on my behalf (because I really have put a lot of thought into this move, contrary to what most people think), we will not have a mortgage or rent payment.  And if you give that fact it’s due consideration, you will understand why this move is not nearly so scary as it might have seemed.  For most people, the house payment is the biggest chunk of their pay, usually 25-33% of their monthly income.  In addition, insurance is substantially lower (at least half of what we pay here), and we will have no water bill (well water).  The Man is very handy, and the labor portion of any home repair bills (and even some minor car repair bills) will be nonexistent, as well.

We have considered selling my rather new car in exchange for an older, yet reliable car, eliminating the one car payment between us (not sure we’ll do this, but it is on the table — we both feel if you aren’t making payments, you’re paying repair bills).  We also intend to plant a garden, if not fully-fledged this year, then at least by next, to supplement our groceries (we have really good soil – used to be a potato farm!).

Where I do anticipate some difficulties adjusting to a blended checking account will be in the food department.  The Man loves the convenience store, and often eats out, sometimes for lunch and dinner.  The Boy and I eat out about once a week, with all other meals coming from our weekly groceries.  Of course, we may also have a discussion or two about where to keep the thermostat, too…

I just found this lovely series from The Peaceful Mom, on how to live on under $28K a year.  You should check it out – lots of great tips on how to live more frugally (without couponing).  I’m hoping we can use some of these in the near future (I’m thinking a clothesline would be nice!).

What money-saving tips have you used?

Liebster Awarded Again!

liebster-award-ribbonI’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award again (Thank You, Meredith, from Looking Up With Down Syndrome – LOVE that title!), but I promise not to bore you with a super-long post this time (and I guess I really better work on getting some more followers so I don’t qualify for this award anymore!).  I’m going to take Little Bird’s Dad‘s lead and use Meredith’s questions for upcoming posts.

First I have to give you 11 facts about myself, so that’s what I’ll do today:

  1. I’m average height for a female in the US (actually o.4″ taller, but I’m not splitting hairs).
  2. I also have fairly average feet, although the average US shoe size for women has grown over the past few decades, and is now an 8, while I still wear a 7.
  3. My song of the day is Get Lucky (featuring Pharrell Williams) by Daft Punk – it’s great packing music!
  4. My favorite flower is the Gerber Daisy.
  5. My most-watched movie is The Princess Bride – it can be annoying to watch it with me because I tend to say all of the lines along with the movie – can’t help it.
  6. I’m a hopeless Anglophile, and visiting Britain is high up on my bucket list.
  7. I usually only eat red meat once or twice a week.  It’s not really a conscious choice, but it makes me feel better.
  8. I once took an Esperanto class (with my mom).
  9. I should have considered being a linguist – I love words and languages and how they develop.
  10. Just started Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, not realizing how long it was (one drawback of the kindle)…
  11. I’m growing my own basil from seeds, and I haven’t killed them yet!

I’ll save the rest for future posts…

Leaving School for the Last Time

As I mentioned last week, my resignation went before the board, and I was finally able to tell my students that I was leaving.  I wasn’t quite sure how to do it, but I just started speaking, and was honest with them.  They didn’t make it easy for me – there was a lot of screaming and howling (middle school behavior leaves much to be desired), but I was able to get through it without breaking down.  There were a few that were in tears, although I think a few more had suspected ever since I got engaged.  They know enough about me and my personal life to put two and two together.  I got many, many hugs, and lots of that look they have when they are thinking hard about something – you know, the “processing big news” look.

flowersOur year-end concert was this past Thursday, and again, I wasn’t sure what to say.  In the classroom, I’m more able to articulate, but put me on a stage, under lights, with a microphone, and I’m not as comfortable.  The kids performed well – I know they were doing their best for me, knowing it was my last one.  At the end, one of my eighth graders, one I never would have guessed would grab the microphone, stepped up and read something she had written for me.  As she read, multiple kids came up to hand me bouquets of flowers, and then there was no stopping the tears.  So many kids came up for hugs, and I hugged each one individually.  A few told me how they felt about me, and my class, that it was the only reason they liked coming to school, and such…  It was all very sweet, and a touch heart-breaking.

I know they are concerned about what will come.  A multi-year class is never the same with a new teacher.  I know they are sad, and a bit mad that I am leaving them (some are probably glad, too!).  I just keep trying to explain to them that sometimes you have to do things that are good for you, even if they don’t seem like they are good for anyone else.

I am still getting random hugs, and messages written on my white board, disappointed looks, and a few quickly-wiped-away tears.  The eighth graders have asked me to come to their dance, a rather big hullabaloo the evening before the last day of school.  Normally, I don’t, but I might pop by this year.

These kids represent 16 years of kids who have taught me so much about themselves, and human beings in general.  I’m a better person for having been a teacher, and I really wish John Q. Public could teach for a day so they knew what really happens in schools, from the teacher’s perspective.

It is time for me to go, however.  I’m so glad these kids have made it a sweeter experience.

Remembering on Memorial Day

English: WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 7, 2010) Music...My bands used to do our local Memorial Day Parade.  It took us a long time to prepare for it (we started in February), it was always scorching hot, and parents often complained about it.  After being accused of exposing their children to heat stroke for making them wear blue jeans a few years back, I decided that this gig wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.

As always, when breaking with longstanding tradition in the education community, it is best to simultaneously propose a replacement activity.  Instead, we decided to visit a local nursing home and perform for real veterans.

This will be our third year, and I think it serves our elders well.  They really enjoy seeing the huge group come in and play for them.  Many end up in tears because it brings back memories of their own or their children’s experiences with school music programs.  They insist on shaking my hand, and tearfully thanking me, which always gets me.

It also serves the kids well, to remember these elders, to see how much they enjoy their performance, to understand what it must be like to have to wait for your entertainment to come to you.

On this Memorial Day, I’m thankful for the service of our veterans, and also the elder community who supported those veterans.

8 Reasons Why The Boy May Be a Time Lord…

Doctor Who fans are a fiercely loyal bunch, and I can proudly say that I was recently initiated via Netflix.  Now, I’m sure there are various strata of Doctor Who fan-dom, and if there are, I am probably in the lowest of the low, because I have not watched all the old-old episodes, with Doctors 1-8, and have not even watched any episodes with the most recent Doctor Who, because I am fiercely loyal to (and have an equally fierce crush on) Doctor number 10.  But.  There are enough similarities between Doctors (I mean they are all supposed to be the same Time Lord, after all), that I think I can make some generalizations, and bring your attention to the fact that The Boy may actually be Doctor Who…

1.  He has an affinity for wearing the same outfit everyday, because he thinks it’s the coolest thing on the planet.  Or on several planets.

The Tenth Doctor's Outfit - Keith Schengili-Roberts

The Tenth Doctor’s Outfit – Keith Schengili-Roberts

2.  He also has an affinity for Chuck Taylor’s.


3.  He has a wee obsession with clocks and timers – What Time Lord wouldn’t?

Yet Another Timer

4.  He tends to use common objects in uncommon ways… like a Sonic Screwdriver, perhaps?

Sonic Screwdriver

5.  He is whip smart, figures stuff out on his own, and loves technology.  He could probably fly a TARDIS meant to be piloted by six Time Lords with one hand tied behind his back…


6.  He tends to need a companion to share adventures, and to rein him in when he gets out of control.

7.  He wears glasses because he thinks they make him “look a bit clever”.


8.  He looks typically human on the outside…

Now can you see why I’m a fan, and why maybe, just maybe, The Boy may be a Time Lord?…

Big News for The Boy

Fantastic Babysitter is going to have a baby, and I was honored to be one of the first to know.  She has become such an integral part of our family, and I can’t even begin to fathom how much we will miss her.  She is going to be a fantastic mother, and there is so much happiness in store for her family.

She waited a bit before telling The Boy, but last night was the big night to impart her news.

This is a picture i took for the Candy article.

We sat down on the couch, and she produced two jellybeans and told him that if he put the two jellybeans together, it would be the size of the baby that is growing in her belly.  He opened his eyes a little wider but didn’t say anything for a few seconds.  She and I both explained a bit more, and then he said, “Did (her husband) do this to you?”

It was a classic, if unexpected response that made us both laugh (we’re still laughing!).  Makes sense coming from one so logical, though.  I guess that sex ed curriculum is working!


Hold Your HorsesI’m so sorry not to have posted in awhile.  It’s the end of the school year, and more specifically, the end of my last school year, meaning wrapping normal things up, while also wrapping up unusually large, abnormal things.  Oh, and moving.  And getting married.  And helping my autistic son get used to the idea of our moving, and my getting married…  Remind me why I did this to myself again?

I have officially resigned my position and told my students, which was difficult to do.  Tonight is my last concert, ever.  And I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little verklempt.  Because of my overwhelming list of things to do, I’m not getting much sleep (the list won’t let my brain turn off), making me even more tired than I already was.  And I feel as if I’m walking around in a daze, as if in limbo anyway, already saying goodbye here, but not really getting there yet.

Thank goodness for the extra day this weekend, which I will use to get caught up on sleep, and caught up in general.  I just wanted to write a quick post to let you know I’m not going anywhere, at least in terms of the blog.  I’ve missed writing desperately, and will be back as soon as I can take a nap… or four.



Men and Boys

There are things in this world that boys need to learn from adults.  I find that as a single mom, some things slip through the cracks, and I’m surprised when I realize The Boy doesn’t know something (like what the phrase “laughing like a hyena” means).  Since The Man has been in our lives, he has often stepped in to teach The Boy something that boys (and really all growing kids) should know how to do, like ride a bike:

First Time on Two Wheels

Today, we had an up and down day, which ended up being mostly up.  Luckily, we were able to turn around a dramatic morning and spent most of the beautiful day at the park.  When we eventually came home, The Man immediately set The Boy to work, teaching him how to wash Mom’s car:


The Man even points out to me the times when I am doing something for The Boy that he could be doing himself.  I bristled at this at first, but it didn’t take me long to realize that he wasn’t telling me how to parent The Boy, and that he was usually right.  Now I find his insights invaluable, and these lessons he teaches The Boy are so important.  And even more important is the relationship that comes from these lessons and insight.  This stuff makes me smile. 🙂

He Thought I’d Leave Him

English: Chili's restaurante at Telheiras, Lis...We picked up The Man at the airport yesterday and brought him home, and he was starving, so we planned to go to Chili’s.  Except that The Boy wasn’t too keen on going to Chili’s right away, not very concerned with everyone else’s level of hunger.  He decided to put his pajamas on, which he often does when we get home from school.  Except we were going to Chili’s.  A minor battle ensued.

I called forth every ounce of patience I had, and sat down on his bed, where he was just about ready to pop, and tried to talk him through, which has worked extremely well, especially lately.  I asked him what was wrong.  He equated going to Chili’s with going to school, and if he was going to school, I would leave him.  Huh?  Where did this come from?  I assured him I wasn’t going anywhere, we weren’t going to school, just to Chili’s to have some dinner, and he could put his jammies on when we got back home.

As he often does when we have battles about clothing, he compromised with wearing his dress clothes, even down to the tie and suit coat.  Better than jammies, I suppose.

Sometimes I realize I can’t even begin to guess what is going on in his mind, and what connections he is making without anyone knowing it.  I guess that’s why talking it through is so important, and it’s why I am so thankful we can do that.